If negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death on a Texas lake, hiring a Dallas wrongful death attorney is the most important decision you can make. While legal action can’t ever fully compensate you for the loss of your loved one, it ensures you won’t be left with a financial burden as a result of their passing.
Types of Boat Accidents That May Lead to Wrongful Death
Boat accidents can occur for many reasons. Some of the most common causes of boat accidents that lead to wrongful death include the following:
- Distraction, which is often the result of alcohol or drug use while operating the boat
- Capsizing or sinking due to damage during operation or poor maintenance and upkeep
- Colliding with objects including other boaters, jet skis, docks, or structures in the water
- Dangerous weather conditions that the operator cannot manage effectively
- Equipment failure that puts passengers at risk
- Operator inexperience
- Poor maintenance and upkeep on the boat leading to dangerous falls or injuries
- Speeding or reckless engagement
What You Need to Prove a Wrongful Death Case in Texas
Proving negligence in a wrongful death case can be complex and typically requires gathering significant evidence. This can include medical records, witness testimony, photographs of the accident scene, video from others near the accident, and expert testimony related to specific issues of liability.
It’s important to realize it may not just be the person operating the boat who caused the death of your loved one. The owner or manufacturer of the boat may also be held legally responsible. That’s why it is so important to work with a wrongful death lawyer in Texas to help prove your case.
To win a wrongful death case in Texas, your attorney must prove:
- The party responsible had a duty of care to your loved one.
- The party in some way failed to uphold that level of care.
- The failure to uphold the duty of care led to the injuries or other causes of your loved one’s death.
- Your loved one would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case in Texas?
In Texas, the person’s close family can bring a lawsuit. This typically includes spouses, children, and parents.
In some situations, a personal representative or administrator may be appointed by the person’s estate if no other party has filed a case. This can be voided if all other members of the family decide not to pursue such actions, however.
Why Pursue a Wrongful Death Case After a Boating Accident?
While taking legal action is a personal decision, there are very valid reasons to pursue a wrongful death case after a loved one is lost in a boating accident. This may include:
- Receiving financial compensation for the loss for dependents of the individual, such as a spouse or child. Loss of inheritance may also be a factor for many people, especially if a parent, for example, died at a young age.
- Pursuing wrongful death due to the emotional pain the death has created. A spouse may suffer significantly from the loss of companionship, for example.
- Seeking reimbursement for funeral and burial costs. There may also be medical expenses related to the accident if your loved one did not pass away immediately.
The potential damages in your deceased family member’s situation are unique. You can talk to your attorney about what you’ve lost as a result of this person’s death.
In some cases, punitive damages may be available. These damages do not reimburse you for a specific loss related to the death of your loved one. Instead, they are intended to punish the defendant for gross negligence and to deter future misconduct.
How Wrongful Death Claims Are Related to Criminal Charges
Please note that a wrongful death case is a type of civil action. It is separate from any criminal charges related to the incident, such as charges for an intoxicated boat operator. Criminal charges result in jail and/or fines. They do not lead to any compensation for the victim’s family.
Evidence from a criminal case may be used to support your wrongful death claim. However, it is possible to win a wrongful death case even if the defendant was acquitted of all criminal charges.
How to Get Started in Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case
To pursue a wrongful death case, start by hiring a trusted attorney with ample experience in this type of personal injury claim. A track record of successful settlements and court judgments is essential.
Wrongful death cases are some of the most complex. That is because you must calculate the financial loss of your loved one based on their earnings and the other support and care they provide to you.
More so, it becomes essential to determine that another person or business specifically is to blame for that loss, which requires gathering evidence from multiple sources. Since your family member is not here to provide insight and guidance into what they experienced, it’s often necessary to have expert witnesses involved.
All of this can be best managed by an experienced attorney in Texas. Working closely with an attorney may allow you to get fair compensation for what’s happened to your loved one. While that may not bring them back, it may provide some peace of mind for you.